Here it is, folks… all 30 some-odd minutes of it. Edited, yet, but still 30 minutes. Wooo.
Here’s a little narrative:
When I got there the mountain was closed to all traffic, with over 60mph winds, and a temp of around 23ºF. I had a nice chat with the gatekeepers, and Howie wasn’t there yet, so I went across the street for some coffee. Howie came in within a few minutes, and we had a lengthy chat about everything from Charlie MacArthur’s work with him, to other events over the years, as well as his hopes for putting future events together. It was great having that time to get to know him and hear more about the Auto Road, and I hope we can get something together next year.
We decided, in light of the weather, I’d wait for a bit and then just see how high I could get. I wanted to at least get to the Halfway House, past the steepest pitch. He came down to where I had unloaded the bike and let me know the mountain was officially open to all traffic and asked what I had for clothing… Down parka, ice climbing mitts, duofold underwear, then wished me luck and decided to follow me for a bit. It turned out he was with me the whole ride, which was a great help.
I started off on the 20ah 72V lead pack, and it pulled like a beast. My speed was around 20mph, but I was keeping it low. At around the 1.5mile mark, my controller started cutting out, and I remembered I’d had it set to cut out at 60V to protect the lipo pack and I hadn’t reset it for the lower voltages of the lead sag. I pulled over and switched to the lipo pack, figuring that was going to kill my chances. The lipo pack I have has been savaged pretty badly, and I had no trust in it at all, really. I was counting on the lead to do the lion’s share.
As it turned out, the lipp pack pulled me like an ox, at 20mph up until the 6 mile mark or so. The voltage drops like a rock on those packs once they near their limit, and I pulled into the turnout. It was pretty windy at that point, probably near around 30-40mph, and I was hoping to get another half-mile or so out of it, so I headed up again, only to have the pack crash and die immediately. I turned around and we switched out the pack to the Headways – LiFEo4 or whatever the chemistry is called… They’re good, solid cells, but they run at a lower nominal voltage than the lipo- 3.2V vs 3.7, so I was afraid my low voltage controller setting would bite me in the ass again.
Heading out from that stop was getting dramatic. The wind was blowing in from the NW, the right side of the road, up over the ridge, and the rocks all had a good coating of ice and frost, though the road was clear. The Headway pack pulled like a beast, right up until the very last pitches. Again, the voltage started dropping and on the last curve into the lower lot I did the Fred Flintstone walk to keep it going and get my butt out of the traffic. It was hilarious.
I’m going over the video now, (which is how I timed it) but I think my time was about 45min, complete with my battery switchouts and chatting with Harley riders etc. I have no doubt that with a good lipo pack I could do it in about 15min with an open road, safely.
I honestly didn’t have much interest in sightseeing at the summit, between the tourists, Harleys and the wind, but I took some shots, tried to put the sticker on the bike for a good photo but it was too cold, so once Howie was back I headed down. The plan was to ride the rear drum until it faded, then hit the front drum to stop until the rear cooled. As it turned out, the rear never faded. I was going very slowly, but not as slowly as the cars in front of me, so it went fine. I stopped to check the rear drum temperature and it was mildly warm to the touch at about the 5 mile point. I have two theories. First, there’s a lot of thermal mass in a drum brake and a lot of aluminum to conduct heat, so it’s pretty good at cooling itself. Second, drums are a hell of a lot better than we like to remember. It’s funny how guys who’ve never ridden on drums seem to think that they don’t work at all… but that’s another rant for another time. :D
Anyway, by the time I was in the trees, I was letting loose a little, running up to 30mph or so, with no problems. When I got to the bottom the rear was hot, and started smelling a little melty, but still was fine…